Paradise Lost


Lorde – Royals

Fifteen hundred years of pilgrims have marched along the Camino de Santiago, with the intent of reaching the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, where it is believed the apostle James is buried. Here, it was promised that a lifetime of sins could be forgiven if only one would go through the pain of getting there. Many times I wondered at the heartbreak God must have experienced as he watched all those pilgrims believe such a lie – even lay down their lives in pursuit of it. The truth is, salvation is not found in a city like Santiago; it is a gift given by Jesus through believing that He took the punishment for my brokenness and has offered instead life everlasting, even life to the full. It is a gift, certainly free from the bondage of a pilgrimage.

The most transformational component of my walk was not that I finally sauntered into Santiago, all those steps from our starting point. I didn’t find God in a cathedral, although He was certainly there. I saw the face of God in every hospitalero who gave us a floor out of the rain when I didn’t have a bed to sleep on. I saw God in the faces of monks and nuns who volunteered their time and resources to feed me when I had no energy to find food. I saw Him too in the people who doctored my feet, and every person who motivated me to keep going, just by walking next to me. Miracle upon miracle upon miracle, God himself became the answer to my every prayer, seeing my need before I could form the words and giving untold gifts on top of that.

Spinoza was on to something when he said that it is the collision of bodies that has the most profound impact in the universe. To Spinoza, there is something to people coming together, the daily intersection of paths and histories and narratives – community – that is unalterably transformational. It is this in collision, this community, that God moves and aids and expresses Himself. People ask me what was the best, most life-changing aspect of the Camino. If I could be so concise, I would without hesitation answer that it is the sense of community from start to finish that changed me. Because it was in the community that I also encountered God.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” – Matthew 25:40

(Image via here)


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